FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa has emphatically denied involvement in investigating and prosecuting athletes during democracy protests in Bahrain in 2011.
Sheikh Salman, president of the Asian Football Confederation, joined the race to replace outgoing FIFA boss Sepp Blatter prior to the Monday deadline for submissions for candidacy.
However, the former head of the Bahrain Football Association has faced criticism from human rights groups since announcing his intention to stand.
The 49-year-old is a member of Bahrain’s royal family, who have been regularly condemned over allegations of oppression of pro-democratic demonstrations and the use of torture.
An article in British newspaper The Guardian cited a 2011 Bahrain News Agency document, which apparently states a special committee to identify athletes who took part in the demonstrations would be headed by Sheikh Salman.
Earlier this week Sheikh Salman described the accusations against him as “nasty lies” and in a statement released on Friday, he added: “Recent allegations are entirely false and categorically denied by Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.
“While it was proposed that Sheikh Salman lead a fact-finding committee in relation to the events of 2011, that committee was never formally established and never conducted any business whatsoever.
“Sheikh Salman had absolutely no involvement in the identification, investigation, prosecution or mistreatment of any individuals, as has been alleged.”